Embuggerance – An obstacle (natural or artificial) that gets in the way of progress.

This word comes from military slang, often used as part of the phrase ‘embuggerance factor’ to describe how much of a problem is caused by something. The Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English dates the phrase back to the British military in the early fifties.

The word is a combination of three parts; the ’em-‘ is a fairly common prefix and variant of ‘en-‘, originally from the Latin ‘in-‘ used as an intensifier and meaning ‘to do with’. Similarly ‘-ance’ used to convert a verb to a noun, can be traced back to Latin, in this case to the suffix ‘-antia’.

The ‘bugger’ part joined the English language via French, where it was ‘bougre’ and although it sounded a lot nicer, it had the same meaning (or multiple meanings) as ‘bugger’ today. Originally ‘bugger’ can be traced back to the medieval Latin word ‘bulgar’ which was the name the Romans used for the people of the 10th century Bulgarian empire – the term was derisive and, by way of defamation, the Bulgar people were said to have been responsible for sodomy, hence it’s modern connotation.



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